We saw a dramatic display of their anger in August when hundreds of racists marched with torches and shouted Nazi slogans in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a young, anti-racist counterprotester was killed. In New Orleans, a multicultural city steeped in Southern history, the political leadership took the opposite tack. We encourage communities across the country to reflect on the true meaning of these symbols and ask the question: Whose heritage do they truly represent?
Then, on June 17, , he attended a Bible study meeting at the historic Emanuel A.
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Church in Charleston, South Carolina, and murdered nine people, all of them black. Instead, when photos surfaced depicting the year-old white supremacist with the Confederate battle flag — including one in which he held the flag in one hand and a gun in the other — Roof ignited something else entirely: a grassroots movement to remove the flag from public spaces. Public officials responded to the national mourning and outcry by removing prominent public displays of its most recognizable symbol. It became a moment of deep reflection for the nation — and particularly for a region where the Confederate flag is viewed by many white Southerners as an emblem of their heritage and regional pride despite its association with slavery, Jim Crow and the violent resistance to the civil rights movement in the s and s.
The moment came amid a period of growing alarm about the vast racial disparities in our country, seen most vividly in the deaths of unarmed African Americans at the hands of police. Under intense pressure, South Carolina officials acted first, passing legislation to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds, where it had flown since In Montgomery, Alabama — a city known as the Cradle of the Confederacy — the governor acted summarily and without notice, ordering state workers to lower several versions of Confederate flags that flew alongside a towering Confederate monument just steps from the Capitol.
The movement quickly began to focus on symbols beyond the flag. In Memphis, the city council voted to remove a statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest , the Confederate general who oversaw the massacre of black Union soldiers and became a Ku Klux Klan leader after the Civil War. Across the South, communities began taking a critical look at many other symbols honoring the Confederacy and its icons — statues and monuments; city seals; the names of streets, parks and schools; and even official state holidays. Now, three years after the Charleston massacre, more than monuments and other symbols of the Confederacy have been removed.
But far more remain. In this updated survey, the Southern Poverty Law Center identified 1, Confederate monuments, place names and other symbols still in public spaces, both in the South and across the nation. Lee and Stonewall Jackson sparked several demonstrations, including the deadly protest on Aug. And it conceals the true history of the Confederate States of America and the seven decades of Jim Crow segregation and oppression that followed the Reconstruction era.
There is no doubt among reputable historians that the Confederacy was established upon the premise of white supremacy and that the South fought the Civil War to preserve its slave labor. Its founding documents and its leaders were clear.
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Confederate monuments and other symbols are very much a part of that effort. As a consequence of the national reflection that began in Charleston, the myths and revisionist history surrounding the Confederacy may be losing their grip in the South. The effort to remove them is about more than symbolism.
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Download a larger version of this image. The dedication of Confederate monuments and the use of Confederate names and other iconography began shortly after the Civil War ended in But two distinct periods saw significant spikes. The first began around as Southern states were enacting Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise African Americans and re-segregate society after several decades of integration that followed Reconstruction. It lasted well into the s, a period that also saw a strong revival of the Ku Klux Klan.
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Many of these monuments were sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The second period began in the mids and lasted until the late s, the period encompassing the modern civil rights movement. While new monument activity has died down, since the s the Sons of Confederate Veterans has continued to erect new monuments.
Schools, parks, streets, dams and other public works are named for its generals. Courthouses, capitols and public squares are adorned with resplendent statues of its heroes and towering memorials to the soldiers who died. And, speckling the Southern landscape are thousands of Civil War markers and plaques. Note: The map below includes symbols and monuments that have been removed.
To view only the active symbols, uncheck the "Removed symbols" box. View the full map. For decades, those opposed to public displays honoring the Confederacy raised their objections, but with little success. A notable exception was a Southern Poverty Law Center suit that, relying on an obscure state law, led to the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Alabama Capitol in But everything changed on June 17, — just five days short of the th anniversary of the last shot of the Civil War. As the nation recoiled in horror, photos showing the gunman with the Confederate flag were discovered online.
Almost immediately, political leaders across the South were besieged with calls to remove the flag and other Confederate symbols from public spaces.
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In the weeks that followed, it became clear that hundreds of public entities ranging from small towns to state governments across the South paid homage to the Confederacy in some way. But there was no comprehensive database of such symbols, leaving the extent of Confederate iconography supported by public institutions largely a mystery.
In an effort to assist the efforts of local communities to re-examine these symbols, the SPLC launched a study to catalog them. For the final tally, the researchers excluded thousands of monuments, markers or other tributes that were on or in battlefields, museums, cemeteries and other places that are largely historical in nature.
In this second edition of the report, the SPLC has identified monuments and symbols not included in the first report and removed those reported erroneously.
The study identified 1, publicly sponsored symbols honoring Confederate leaders, soldiers or the Confederate States of America in general. These include monuments and statues; flags; holidays and other observances; and the names of schools, highways, parks, bridges, counties, cities, lakes, dams, roads, military bases and other public works.
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Many of these are prominent displays in major cities and at state capitols; others, like the Stonewall Jackson Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department in Manassas, Virginia, are little known. Lee is by far the most prominent, with a total of Beauregard 57 and J. Stuart Sign our petition to tell lawmakers to remove symbols honoring Jefferson Davis from public spaces.
Of the public schools and three colleges named for Confederates leaders, those honoring Robert E.
Beauregard 7 and John Reagan 6. The vast majority are in the states of the former Confederacy, though Robert E. Lee Elementary in East Wenatchee, Washington, is an interesting outlier. And, until their names were changed in , two elementary schools in California Long Beach and San Diego were named for Lee. The Long Beach school was renamed in honor of a local labor activist. The study identified monuments at county courthouses, town squares, state capitols and other public venues.
The majority were dedicated before Twenty eight were dedicated between and Thirty-four were dedicated after Many of these are memorials to Confederate soldiers, typically inscribed with colorful language extolling their heroism and valor, or, sometimes, the details of particular battles or local units. These monuments are found in a total of 23 states and the District of Columbia. Outside of the seceding states, the states with the most are Kentucky 24 , Missouri 13 and West Virginia 9.
Monuments are also found in states far from the Confederacy, including California 3 and Arizona 4. Southerners began honoring the Confederacy with statues and other symbols almost immediately after the Civil War. The first Confederate Memorial Day, for example, was dreamed up by the wife of a Confederate soldier in That same year, Jefferson Davis laid the cornerstone of the Confederate Memorial Monument in a prominent spot on the state Capitol grounds in Montgomery, Alabama.
But two distinct periods saw a significant rise in the dedication of monuments and other symbols. The first began around , amid the period in which states were enacting Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise the newly freed African Americans and re-segregate society. This spike lasted well into the s, a period that saw a dramatic resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, which had been born in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. The second spike began in the early s and lasted through the s, as the civil rights movement led to a backlash against deseregationists.
In , Confederate flags were removed from the capitol grounds of South Carolina and Alabama following the Charleston church massacre. However, the survey identified seven public places in five former Confederate states where the flag still flies or is represented. The most prominent is the Mississippi state flag, adopted amid the onset of Jim Crow in It conspicuously incorporates the Confederate battle flag into its design.
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In addition, emblems that adorn the uniforms of Alabama state troopers contain a likeness of the flag. All of the 10 military bases named for Confederate leaders are located in the former states of the Confederacy. They are Fort Rucker Gen. Henry L.